By Nick Shook
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The Patriots will have one of their unheralded but reliable wideouts back for the AFC Championship Game.
Chris Hogan (thigh) is good to go in the conference title contest, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday, per a source informed. He was limited in Wednesday’s practice. Hogan left late in New England’s win over Houston with the thigh injury, but could have returned if he was needed, Rapoport said. With the Patriots owning a multiple-score lead, the receiver instead spent the rest of the game on the sideline.
Hogan made his name in the NFL as a third or fourth receiving option in Buffalo, catching 36-plus passes and tallying at least 426 yards in each of his final two seasons with the Bills before joining New England, where he’s found his best fit. Anyone who watched Hogan’s final two seasons in Buffalo and knows how otherwise marginal receivers thrive in the Patriots‘ system could have seen Hogan’s career year — 38 catches, 680 yards, four touchdowns — coming down the pike.
Hogan’s status is welcome for a Patriots offense that has been forced to look elsewhere after losing Rob Gronkowski but is comfortable with spreading the ball around. Five targets caught 30 or more passes in the regular season. Hogan is another cog in a Patriots machine that is looking to make yet another Super Bowl appearance.
Tight end Martellus Bennett (knee), linebacker Dont’a Hightower (shoulder), wideouts Danny Amendola (ankle) and Malcolm Mitchell (knee), and defensive end Jabaal Sheard (knee) were all limited.
Here’s another injury we’ve been tracking on Wednesday:
1. Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson (ribs) is working with the team’s rehab group on Wednesday, head coach Mike McCarthy said. Rapoport reported that Nelson is unlikely to play in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Safety Morgan Burnett (quad) did not participate in practice but also worked with the rehab group, and cornerback Quinten Rollins is closer to clearing concussion protocol, McCarthy said. Receiver Davante Adams (ankle) also did not practice, working with the rehab group as well.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Ladarius Green was a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice as he is still in the concussion protocol. Coach Mike Tomlin told NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala that he does not have an update on Green’s status regarding the protocol.